Director: Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi
Starring: Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: When a monstrous creature emerges from the ocean and lays waste to the coast of Japan, a task force of politicians, generals, and top scientists are pulled together to make sense of the dire situation and put a stop to this titanic monsters rampage.
Released 12 years after Toho’s last Godzilla entry in the millennium series, Shin Godzilla was effectively a reboot for the G Man. With the renewed interest in the iconic Kaiju following the American reimagining released in 2014, Toho handed the reins to directors Hideaki Anno (responsible for the famous Neon Genesis Evangelion anime) and Shinji Higuchi (special effects director of the Heisei Gamera trilogy) to show the world a Godzilla unlike any other before.
Shin Godzilla is a true reimagining, a standalone Godzilla film not tied to any of the previous films before. Set in a modern Japan, the origins of the monster is no longer due to nuclear missiles but a result of nuclear waste and contamination (an allegory to the 2011 Fukushima disaster). Godzilla remains the only Kaiju throughout the movies runtime with no monster brawls or tag team partners to help take down Japan.
Godzilla’s design here is nothing short of terrifying. First appearing as a fish like monster crawling on all fours and gushing boiling blood from exposed gills, he evolves throughout the film with each incarnation more dangerous than the last. His ultimate form is a far cry from his usually more reptilian look, with a zombie-like features, a skeletal upper torso with tiny arms, a massive bludgeoning tail, and lidless harrowing eyes. Never has Godzilla appeared more monstrous, especially the breathtaking scene where he unleashes his atomic breath for the first time, causing untold destruction on a scale never before seen.
Similar to American 2014 film, Godzilla features very little with the vast majority of the film taking place in boardrooms during brainstorming sessions, press conferences and emergency meetings. The principal character of the film is effectively the Japanese government as we follow them, reacting to the appearance of this monster almost in real time. Every decision is tied up in a maze of bureaucracy and ribbons of red tape, resulting in miscalculations and massive wastes of resources. The Japanese Prime Minister becomes the most sympathetic character as he’s practically drowning in constant reports, scientific/legal jargon, and a nation of people looking to his every call. What might sound dull and monotonous is in all actuality riveting cinema as Anno uses snappy dialogue, sharp editing, and laugh out loud moments of bureaucratic incompetence to keep the viewer thoroughly engaged.
Shin Godzilla is without a doubt one of the best modern Kaiju films out there and definitely in my top 3 favourite Godzilla films. The back to basics approach along with Anno’s satirical style makes for an excellent screenplay filled with engaging dialogue, relatable characters, witty moments, and some truly memorable Kaiju action. Shin Godzilla is a stark reminder of how destructive a force the G Man once was and how little and insignificant we are in the face of such a monstrous entity.
Shots of Sake